Hand Keeping Recruiting in Perspective

With his November 14th decision date fast-approaching, Woodbridge (Va.) DE Da'Shawn Hand is still taking recruiting in stride. After his team suffered a tough loss to C.D. Hylton last weekend GoBlueWolverine got the latest on where things currently stand in his recruitment, his thoughts on his Michigan visit, his decision criteria, and more.

Saturday’s game versus arch-rival C.D. Hylton didn’t go according to plan for Woodbridge high and its star player Da'Shawn Hand.  The five-star defensive end had hoped to dominate his very familiar opponent en route to memorable victory.  The dominance part happened.  The victory part did not.

“It was crazy because we all went to (school up to the) eighth grade together,” Hand said of referring to Hylton’s players after they dealt his team a 41-14 loss.  “Probably half the starting lineup was my eighth grade team, so kind of brought us back to memory lane. It was just weird going against them, but you just have to play through. Obviously they were a better team tonight, but you just have to keep doing what you have to do.”

Hand certainly did his part, making his presence felt from the opening series.  The 6-5, 260-pounder crashed through the line for two bone-jarring tackles during the contest’s opening series.  From there it was a game of cat & mouse where Hylton took advantage of the All-American’s desire to try to do his job and those of many of his teammates as well.

“Basically they were just reading me,” said Hand of Hylton.  “Travon McMillian is a great player.  He did a couple (read-options) and he caught me being aggressive.  They were running the ball up the middle, so I just tried to stop that… but at the same time, he would pull it, so I had to be cautious. He had me on my heels a little bit.  I just had to contain, I had to take on blocks, take on double teams, triple teams, or cuts, or even cheap shots, but I mean, that’s all part of the game, and that’s about it.”

Though discouraged by the outcome, Hand refused to get down on his team.  The precocious youngster can see a bigger picture that includes collective and personal goals that are still attainable.

“Basically I stay optimistic,” he stated.  “You have to get through adversity. We stay a family.  Even through the highs and lows, wins and losses we stay a team… stay strong.”

"As for me, I get mine. I eat!  That’s one thing… I do get mine.  I’m going to get my double-digit (sack) title.  I’m going to get my two, three, four sacks. I try to get a punt block in. I didn’t get a punt block this game, but I guess next game I’m going to have to get a couple of those to make up for this one.”

Reaching those benchmarks will help his team reach the playoffs, and that remains his primary athletic focus.  Everything else, including recruiting, is secondary.  That’s why he hasn’t spoken very much about last month’s visit to Michigan.  He just isn’t taking much time to think about visits outside of those moments.  That doesn’t mean he didn’t have a good time while in Ann Arbor.

“It was a great visit,” said Hand.  “It just let me know if I could live there or not, how the people are, things I could do every day, and places I could go. It was a good visit. Plus I got to spend some time with the coaches.  They weren’t really recruiting me that much. It was kind of just getting to know them more, getting to know the players.”

Hand’s dad Sharrif shared in the experience, and as was the case during his first trip to Ann Arbor with his son, he came away extremely impressed.

“Every time I come out to Michigan I have a good time,” the elder Hand stated.   “That goes without saying.  Just to be part of history that was the biggest crowd ever there at the Big House… just to be a part of that was something.  I had a ball at Michigan and they treat you good when you get there.  I really like Michigan.  Shawn likes Michigan too.”

“But that was September and I’m getting ready for Alabama,” Da’Shawn later added.  “So I’m rolling with the Tide.”

That’s because Tuscaloosa is the next stop on his itinerary next weekend.  His recruiting focus will then shift a few weeks later when he visits Florida on November 9th. It’s the approach his dad advised him to take… don’t get so taken with any program that it clouds the ability to give the next one a fair and honest look.  Hand is making it a point to concentrate how each school lives up to his criteria without necessarily comparing them to one another just yet.  His standards haven’t changed. One of the most important factors will be the academic fit.  Where many prospects give pay lip service to its significance, the Hands insist it is a serious consideration.  That certainly was the case when Da’Shawn had to choose which high school he would attend four years ago.  He lives closer to Hylton than Woodbridge, Hylton is the bigger football power, and Hylton was the school most of his friends were headed to.  Despite all of that he chose Woodbridge.

“Woodbridge had the engineering program and Hylton didn’t,” Mr. Hand explained.  “At the time he was interested in the engineering program, plus over at Woodbridge his cousin went there too.  But there still was a little more familiarity (at Hylton) because he went to school up to eighth grade with the guys at Hylton.  It was pretty much the engineering program at the time (that caused him to choose Woodbridge).”

The opportunity to play a significant role for a winning program early in his career is also of extreme importance.  While he’ll clearly be evaluating his ability do so for each of his finalist, he won’t be altering his views of the programs on a week to week basis based on who wins and who loses.

“Losing is part of the game,” Mr. Hand replied when asked if recent losses by Florida and Michigan have affected their standing.  “I don’t think that has too much to play on the decision.  Of course you want to be with a successful program.  At the same time, you want to be with a program that has your best interest in mind too.  It’s not all about winning.”

Stay tuned for much more from Hand in part two of this feature Friday.

#54 Da'Shawn Hand vs. C.D. Hylton

The Michigan Insider Top Stories

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Saturday’s game versus arch-rival C.D. Hylton didn’t go according to plan for Woodbridge high and its star player Da'Shawn Hand. The five-star defensive end had hoped to dominate his very familiar opponent en route to memorable victory. The dominance part happened. The victory part did not.

“It was crazy because we all went to (school up to the) eighth grade together,” Hand said of referring to Hylton’s players after they dealt his team a 41-14 loss. “Probably half the starting lineup was my eighth grade team, so kind of brought us back to memory lane. It was just weird going against them, but you just have to play through. Obviously they were a better team tonight, but you just have to keep doing what you have to do.”

Hand certainly did his part, making his presence felt from the opening series. The 6-5, 260-pounder crashed through the line for two bone-jarring tackles during the contest’s opening series. From there it was a game of cat & mouse where Hylton took advantage of the All-American’s desire to try to do his job and those of many of his teammates as well.

“Basically they were just reading me,” said Hand of Hylton. “Travon McMillian is a great player. He did a couple (read-options) and he caught me being aggressive. They were running the ball up the middle, so I just tried to stop that… but at the same time, he would pull it, so I had to be cautious. He had me on my heels a little bit. I just had to contain, I had to take on blocks, take on double teams, triple teams, or cuts, or even cheap shots, but I mean, that’s all part of the game, and that’s about it.”

Though discouraged by the outcome, Hand refused to get down on his team. The precocious youngster can see a bigger picture that includes collective and personal goals that are still attainable. “Basically I stay optimistic,” he stated. “You have to get through adversity. We stay a family. Even through the highs and lows, wins and losses we stay a team… stay strong.”

\"As for me, I get mine. I eat! That’s one thing… I do get mine. I’m going to get my double-digit (sack) title. I’m going to get my two, three, four sacks. I try to get a punt block in. I didn’t get a punt block this game, but I guess next game I’m going to have to get a couple of those to make up for this one.”

Reaching those benchmarks will help his team reach the playoffs, and that remains his primary athletic focus. Everything else, including recruiting, is secondary. That’s why he hasn’t spoken very much about last month’s visit to Michigan. He just isn’t taking much time to think about visits outside of those moments. That doesn’t mean he didn’t have a good time while in Ann Arbor.

“It was a great visit,” said Hand. “It just let me know if I could live there or not, how the people are, things I could do every day, and places I could go. It was a good visit. Plus I got to spend some time with the coaches. They weren’t really recruiting me that much. It was kind of just getting to know them more, getting to know the players.”

Hand’s dad Sharrif shared in the experience, and as was the case during his first trip to Ann Arbor with his son, he came away extremely impressed.

“Every time I come out to Michigan I have a good time,” the elder Hand stated. “That goes without saying. Just to be part of history that was the biggest crowd ever there at the Big House… just to be a part of that was something. I had a ball at Michigan and they treat you good when you get there. I really like Michigan. Shawn likes Michigan too.”

“But that was September and I’m getting ready for Alabama,” Da’Shawn later added. “So I’m rolling with the Tide.”

That’s because Tuscaloosa is the next stop on his itinerary next weekend. His recruiting focus will then shift a few weeks later when he visits Florida on November 9th. It’s the approach his dad advised him to take… don’t get so taken with any program that it clouds the ability to give the next one a fair and honest look. Hand is making it a point to concentrate how each school lives up to his criteria without necessarily comparing them to one another just yet. His standards haven’t changed. One of the most important factors will be the academic fit. Where many prospects give pay lip service to its significance, the Hands insist it is a serious consideration. That certainly was the case when Da’Shawn had to choose which high school he would attend four years ago. He lives closer to Hylton than Woodbridge, Hylton is the bigger football power, and Hylton was the school most of his friends were headed to. Despite all of that he chose Woodbridge.

“Woodbridge had the engineering program and Hylton didn’t,” Mr. Hand explained. “At the time he was interested in the engineering program, plus over at Woodbridge his cousin went there too. But there still was a little more familiarity (at Hylton) because he went to school up to eighth grade with the guys at Hylton. It was pretty much the engineering program at the time (that caused him to choose Woodbridge).”

The opportunity to play a significant role for a winning program early in his career is also of extreme importance. While he’ll clearly be evaluating his ability do so for each of his finalist, he won’t be altering his views of the programs on a week to week basis based on who wins and who loses.

“Losing is part of the game,” Mr. Hand replied when asked if recent losses by Florida and Michigan have affected their standing. “I don’t think that has too much to play on the decision. Of course you want to be with a successful program. At the same time, you want to be with a program that has your best interest in mind too. It’s not all about winning.”

Stay tuned for much more from Hand in part two of this feature Friday.

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